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I’m a pretty ecclectic person when it comes to music.  I listen to almost all genres of music, including: Pop music in various languages, Alternative-Rock, Top 40 Urban, Punk, Ska, Classic 1950s-60s Pop & Motown music, Techno/Dance, etc.  Recently, I’ve really gotten interested in Jazz music.  Well, I mean…it’s mostly Bossa Nova, Soft Jazz, Brazilian Jazz & some Verve Jazz.  I’m not really familiar with Rythm & Blues, or the Bluegrass stuff.  I just mostly listen to the tropical/Latin type of Jazz music…with songs like “The Waters of March” & “Corcovado.

I’ve heard of Jazz music since I was a kid, but I never really knew anything about it until probably 2-3 years ago.  I first kick-started my interest in Jazz music when a friend of mine mentioned that his favorite ‘crusing’ song was “The Girl From Ipanema“.  I had never heard of that song before, so I decided to look it up on the Internet.  Little did I know, that this would be the song that threw me right into the deep end of the Jazz genre.  I was instantly hooked the moment I heard that song.

Now, I still don’t know a hill of beans about Jazz music… Some would still say I’m a “noob” (in Internet lingo), but I am excited to share this with everyone.  It certainly broadened my musical tastebuds.  These are some of the Jazz-type artists that I know of & like.  I have included links, so you can sample their songs.

I hope you enjoy this music as much as I do!  Curl up with a nice hot cup of coffee & gaze longingly out the misty-faced window on this brisk Autumn evening…

Uniqlo Coming To San Francisco via Refinery29

Ok, I am not a religious person, but I must say “Hallelujah!”  Yes, yes, yes!  My wishes have been fulfilled!  My absolute, most favorite clothing brand of all time, UNIQLO, will be opening several new store locations throughout the world  within the near future, & guess what?!  My local city San Francisco is on this list of locations!!!  Yes, that means that my all-time favorite clothing brand from Japan will be opening a new store near me, sometime in the future.

For those of you who have never heard of this brand, UNIQLO is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer & retailer with affordable prices.  UNIQLO’s fashion style has been compared to GAP clothing, but with the retail price tag equivalent of H&M.  What started as an affordable unique clothing brand only sold in Japan (as are most Japanese clothing brands), UNIQLO has expanded its International branches & now have retail stores all around the world including: Hong Kong, mainland China, Thailand, Russia, Taiwan, etc. with it’s only U.S. retail store residing in New York.

Right now the very famous Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO is conducting a major expansion project & is expecting to open more flagship stores & smaller shops in various cities around the world including: New York (Manhattan), Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut, New Jersey & London.  Some, or most of these stores will most likely not open any time in the near future, as UNIQLO is also geared to create a new clothing collection with Lady Gaga’s stylist: Nicola Formichetti (which will probably debut first).

Here are some of my quick thoughts on UNIQLO’s expansion project:

  • More retail stores are scheduled to open in New York, especially in the Manhattan district.  I personally, don’t understand why this should or needs to be done, since Manhattan already has a 5-level flagship store that is more than capable of meeting consumer demand.
  •  I’m not quite sure how the New Jersey store will come to be, since most New Jersey-ites schlep themselves across the Hudson river all the way to New York to do most of their major retail shopping.
  • Connecticut?  Really?!  Well, I guess if that’s what you want, but I don’t really see the point. (Please refer back to my New Jersey comment.)
  • I don’t have much to say about the “windy city” Chicago, since I don’t know much about that city itself…but I’ve heard it’s a growing fashion hotspot, so I can kind of see how a UNIQLO retail store might work out there.  We will have to see after its first year’s sales stats.

Last but not least…

  • I heard about the rumor of UNIQLO planning on opening a California retail location since last year, & my immediate (instant) thought was that Los Angeles would be the first California city to have a retail store.  I think I am on track with the correct prediction.  I just have a gut feeling about this.  Los Angeles has a larger Japanese population compared to any Bay Area city near San Francisco, including S.F. (not that ethnicity should matter).  Also, Los Angeles is considered to be one of the largest fashion capitals in the world.  So, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Los Angeles opened up a retail store first.  It would make more sense.  In fact, I would be more surprised if San Francisco opened up a retail store before Los Angeles.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not anytime soon, just as long as they do actually open a store location in my local city.  I just can’t believe that this rumor is now confirmed to be a fact.  I have visited the New York Manhattan flagship location, & the various retail locations around Shanghai, China.  Also, I often shop at the various retail stores scattered around Tokyo (in Japan), including their exclusive t-shirt shop in Harajuku called UT UNIQLO…& I can definitely say that…being one of UNIQLO’s biggest fans…I am so overjoyed to hear this exciting news!!

The last time I visited Japan was in December 2010, with my fiancee & my friends.  These are some of the fun things I learned from my trip.  Enjoy.

1. When you go to a cafe & sit outside and/or next to the window, you will be given a blanket to keep your lap/legs warm (only during Winter season).

2. Most restaurants/cafes have a designated basket with a cloth cover at each dining table.  When you are seated, you can put your purse and/or shopping bags in the basket to keep your bags clear from the aisles & to keep them from getting dirty.

3. Hotel rooms will recycle your  bed sheets & towels for 3 days unless you put the “change my sheets” card on your bed.  This saves a lot on cleaning & water!

4. When it rains, all shops/stores will put a plastic cover on all of your shopping bags so they don’t get wet. (This is the one thing I wish our stores had in the U.S.)

5. Dudes are paid to drive big trucks with giant billboards around town while blaring the most annoying KPop music by the popular Korean boy band 2PM. (Do you notice that I don’t like the band 2PM?)

6. During Christmas time, even though you are overseas, you will NOT escape Western Christmas music…You will hear it EVERYWHERE.  You will also hear “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” & Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” about 50 times a day, while not really sure if the locals even know what the lyrics mean.

7. If you go shopping at a major department store, the sales people will try to sell you everything & anything. They are insanely pushy, but polite as hell about it.

8a. I love the clothing brand A Bathing Ape, & I’ve noticed that ALL sales staff at every single Tokyo region Bathing Ape (a.k.a. BAPE) store are friendly & cool.  Although they can’t speak much English, they can understand it & try to speak it to make you feel welcome. (I have also found that the sales staff at the BAPE stores in NY & L.A.(which is now closed) are also friendly/nice.)

8b. Every single time I go shopping at a Tokyo region Bathing Ape store with my fiancee, we will get special treatment, we will make friends with at least one sales clerk.  I don’t understand this, but I guess my fiancee just appears to be outgoing & perhaps that is why others tend to gravitate toward him & can talk to him easily…even when there is a language barrier. (P.S. If you are ever in Shibuya, Tokyo….look up a guy named Saito at the BAPE store in Shibuya.  He is one of the coolest store clerks I’ve ever met in Japan.)

9. You will see cheesy American restaurant chains all over Tokyo (eg. Outback, TGI Fridays, Denny’s, L&L Hawaiian BBQ, El Torito, Sizzler), but don’t expect crazy lines out the door.  You will only find that mind-numbing queue at Eggs ‘N Things (which came from Hawaii).  The whole Western food trend has come & gone already.  (Plus, I’m a little biased & think that the Japanese spin on Western/American food tastes so much better than the way it’s cooked back home.)

10. You will hear Western Pop music everywhere compared to Japanese Pop music (which is not played nearly as much as Western Top 40/Pop).  I couldn’t escape the songs “We R Who We R” by Ke$ha or “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz when I was in Tokyo.

11. The new latest invention in Japanese technology: Otohime.  Every public bathroom stall will have a device that will make a running water sound for a more discreet bathroom experience.  You just press the button on the device & it will make a flushing noise to mask the sounds.  You can eve buy this in a handy pocket device for travel and/or public use.

12. Most public bathrooms will have a “regular” stall with squat-in-the-ground toilets or “Western” stalls with sit-down toilets.  I thought this was pretty cool…that some rather old fashioned traditions still remain.

13. Fruits are not as expensive as you think they are. It’s not as if every grocery store in town will have that $40 watermelon you saw on reddit.com/ebaumsworld.com. Ok, so compared to American grocery store prices, they are pretty pricey ($6 for 2 apples).  However, they are much more beautiful in color & shape, much more sweeter, & bigger in size compared to our U.S. market fruits.  So, it’s almost like getting more fruit for your money.  Plus, the only $40 fruits you will find are the organic ones, grown on some special farm, & comes in a fancy wrapped box that are supposed to be for gift giving.  Those fruits you will find at super luxe department stores like Matsuzakaya or Mitsukoshi…or at fancy grocery stores that specifically sell organic goods.

Original article via Tokyo HivePUFFY to release best album to celebrate their 15th anniversary.

I’m really excited that PUFFY will be celebrating their 15 year anniversary (& I’m a bit stunned that it’s been 15 years already).  I’ve been a long time fan of the band & I have already been to 3 of their concerts in the U.S. (as well as collecting as many of their CDs as I can).

I must say that these 2 ladies are an amazing pair.  Being able to balance work & family life is not an easy task, but Ami Onuki & Yumi Yoshimura are able to make it look so effortless, & I applaud these strong women.

You know what else?  This is a little-known fact about myself: PUFFY was one of my “gateway” / “bait” bands into the Japanese Pop music scene.  Around the time I had just learned about Japanese Pop music (a.k.a. JPop), Japanese anime was just becoming hugely popular in America.  I had previously known about anime & such, but I had no clue what Japanese Pop music was like.  I had no idea that Japanese Pop music was so modern & popular all around the world.  I first learned about this amazing music genre when I was given some Japanese Pop CDs from my older cousin who resides in Japan as a gift.  He had given me one CD by Morning Musume & one by BoA.  I really had no idea what was going on or what the lyrics meant, but I had immediately fallen in love.

After that first experience, I dove head first into the world of Japanese Pop music & pop-culture.  I spent many weekends at the one music shop in the local Japantown, browsing all the aisles, marveling at all of the beautiful & shiny CD covers.  I was lucky that I had a friend that knew about Japanese Pop music long before I had even heard of it, & she recommended a few artists for me to listen to…one of which was PUFFY!  This friend was great.  Not only did she know a few things about Japanese music, but she could also read some Japanese text, so she was able to translate a few CD names for me at the time.  (Thanks friend!)

Once I had immersed myself into the Japanese Pop music scene, I was utterly obsessed!  To this very day, I am still crazy about Japanese Pop music…probably more now than I ever have before… But now I have branched out my musical ears into other genres of Japanese music…also listening to: JRock (i.e.: LUNA SEA, Judy And MaryOrange Range, the Pillows, etc.), JSoul a.k.a. R&B (i.e.: Ken Hirai, Namie Amuro, Emi Hinouchi, Kato Miliyah, etc.), JRap (i.e.: m-flo, Teriyaki Boyz, Rip Slyme, Rhymester, etc.), & JSka/JJazz (i.e.: orange pekoe, Crazy Ken Band, Jazztronik, OreSkaBand, etc.) among many others.  If you browse through my iTunes music folder, you’d probably notice that 80% of my music is Japanese,  10% Western Top 40/Pop, 8% Jazz/Bossa Nova, & 2% World/International.

Overall, I’d definitely say that PUFFY has influenced me in exploring other genres & (languages) of music.  Thank you PUFFY & Congratulations on celebrating 15 years & many more!

Ame Warashi approved!

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Need an iced drink to cool down, but it’s gotta be caffeinated to perk me up. ☕️
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